Pop quiz: which of the following are L.A. transportation cliches?

Blogger Eric A. Morris has set out to dismiss popular misconceptions of L.A.’s transportation system… and by “set out” I mean written a post in the New York Times. A snippet with his challenge here…

(I should also note that per Morris’ bio he’s “a doctoral student in UCLA’s department of urban planning and a researcher at UCLA’s Institute of Transportation Studies.” Yep, another city nerd!)

Exactly one of the following statements about transportation in Los Angeles is indisputably true. Two are (at best) half-truths, and the rest are flat-out myths. Can you figure out which of the following is accurate?

1. Los Angeles’s air is choked with smog.
2. Los Angeles has developed in a low-density, sprawling pattern.
3. Angelenos spend more time stuck in traffic than any other drivers in the nation.
4. Thanks to the great distances between far-flung destinations, and perhaps to Angelenos’ famed “love affair” with the car, Angelenos drive considerably more miles than most Americans.
5. Los Angeles is dominated by an overbuilt freeway system that promotes autodependence.
6. Los Angeles’s mass transit system is underdeveloped and inadequate.

He’ll post what he believes are the answers in the near future at Freakonomics.

I’m refreshingly surprised that Morris didn’t mention the whole “nobody walks in L.A. thing.” But are there any other cliches or myths that he missed?

7 thoughts on “Pop quiz: which of the following are L.A. transportation cliches?”

  1. #2 – We certainly have sprawl but we are not “low density” it falls into the half truth, actually I think Jason Burns did a post on our density being among the highest in the US.

    #4 Our typical annual mileage isn’t that different from anyone else in the state. I did insurance claims for years and I can tell you looking at the annual mileage we saw on cars for folks in places like Dinuba, SLO, Fresno etc were pretty much in line with us. We are marginally higher as a state than the national average BUT most of the western states were on the higher side. Why…I think its due to the distance between towns and large population centers.

    The cliche he missed is we measure distance between points in Time rather than miles.

    Why does everyone love to hate us?

  2. The cliche that comes to mind first is that we’re all constantly firing off automatic weapons at each other because of road rage (See: LA Story).

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